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The Lowdown on CBD Oil and Cancer

The Lowdown on CBD Oil and Cancer

It is increasingly important to be sceptical about any cancer health claims posted on facebook, social media or reduced to 30 second news spots. Legitimate studies about cancer are typically reduced to only the bare minimum of important information, and only the most notable points are discussed even if they do not represent the main focus of the study. This type of (dis)information is so far removed from the original study, and diluted down for easy consumption by the public, that little we hear is actually based on solid facts.

However, the claims now circulating about CBD oil and cancer are exponentially different. Taking a moment to review the large body of available research, the results are continuing to find positive outcomes in regards to CBD oil and its ability to treat the symptoms of cancer, the side effects of traditional cancer treatments, and most excitingly suggestions that CBD oil may help target cancer itself. Even outside of short news clips, a close examination of the growing body of research stands up to scrutiny. 

Notably human trials based on cannabis and cannabis compounds, have historically been quite difficult to find regulatory approval within the United States. The legal environment is slowly changing however, and nowadays there are quite a few small and preliminary trials underway for cannabis based products in cancer patients. There is also a significant amount of data available looking into cannabidiol (CBD), cannabis and other compounds through animal studies and lab studies. This information has built a solid understanding of what CBD can offer in terms of symptom management and even tumour reduction, despite the fact that more research is needed to fully understand exactly how CBD has been able to accomplish it.

At the moment there are a few key areas of interest that are being pursued in terms of CBD and cancer treatment.  Currently, most studies have been focused around symptom management, but a growing number are now looking into CBDs antitumour possibilities

Nausea and Vomiting (Antiemetic effects)

Unfortunately, traditional cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy often cause significant and debilitating side effects. The primary reaction is nausea and vomiting. There have been several medical developments of synthetic cannabinoids, such as Dronabinol and Nabilone, which have been developed for treatment of these cases. These medications have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration within the United States, as well as approved within Canada, New Zealand and a variety of european countries.

The available research demonstrates that in most cases, when synthetic cannabinoids were used, they were found to be more effective than the other pharmaceuticals usually used for as antiemetic medicine. Perhaps more importantly, patients chose to keep using the cannabinoids over the other options. This bodes well for further research into CBD oil treatment for its antiemetic results.

Pain Relief (Analgesia effects)

Cannabinoids, such as CBD, interact with and around endocannabinoids receptors CB1 and CB2. These receptors are primarily responsible for pain management in peripheral tissues and nerve endings. Cannabidiol in particular is able to target inflammation, which is the main source of pain in cancer patients throughout all stages of the disease. Problematically, in advanced stages of cancer, or when pain is particularly persistent, it is often resistant to strong doses of opioids.

One of the studies with the most convincing outcome, demonstrated that patients who were treated with THC/CBD, THC or a placebo extract, showed the most pain management and reduction through treatment with the THC/CBD extract. Researchers were able to demonstrate that patients who continued to experience issues with pain, despite being treated with opioid painkillers, were able to increase their quality of life through pain reduction when treated with the THC/CBD mixture. There is further evidence suggesting that the THC/CBD extract worked even over longer periods of times, with no need to increase the dosage.

Improved sleep

Although improved sleep may not be surprising, considering the stereotypes associated with CBD and other cannabis derived substances, it is also an important medical pursuit in terms of improving the quality of life for cancer patients. This has been demonstrated in animal trials, but is yet to be seriously pursued in cancer patients. At this time only small clinical trials exist examining the effects of THC, rather than CBD. With that being said, CBD has been shown to reduce anxiety and improve sleep quality within animal models, and CBD is known to have a key (if still poorly understood) regulatory effect on the sleep patterns of rats.


Although only still in its preliminary stages, one of the most exciting areas of research in the field of CBD and cannabinoids, is looking at CBDs cancer fighting potential. These studies are nearly all within labs, or animals studies and have yet to begin within human trials, however the results are proving extremely interesting.

It was found that during in vitro tests, CBD was able to target breast cancer cells and induce programmed cell death. It seemed to decrease the survival rate of a variety of different types of breast cancer cells, while at the same time completely ignoring healthy breast cancer cells. Similar outcomes have also been discovered in preclinical trials of CBD treatment of colon cancer, and there is evidence to suggest that in some cases CBD may increase the absorption of other cancer fighting drugs by the malignant tumor. Finally, in other small models CBD also seemed to offer protection to healthy cells and DNA.




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